The White House on Saturday reported that the second-in-command of the Islamic State jihadist group has been killed in a US airstrike in northern Iraq.
The National Security Council has identified the slain militant as Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Haji Mutaz, adding that he was IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s senior deputy. According to US forces, Hayali was killed, along with an IS “media operative” known as Abu Abdullah, on 18 August in a strict that targeted a vehicle near the city of Mosul. The White House has described Hayali as a member of IS’ ruling council, adding that he was “a primary coordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles and people between Iraq and Syria.” The White House further disclosed that Hayali “…supported ISIL operations in both countries and was in charge of ISIL operations in Iraq, where he was instrumental in planning operations over the past two years, including the ISIL offensive in Mosul in June 2014.” Like many senior Iraqi jihadists, prior to joining IS, Hayali had been a member of al-Qaeda’s Iraqi faction, with sources indicated that he was reportedly a former Iraqi officer from the era of Saddam Hussein.
This however is not the first time that US officials have announced Hayali’s death. In December, while speaking to reporters, US defense officials disclosed that Hayali was one of several senior figures who was killed in coalition strikes. At the time, officials provided another of his pseudonyms, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani.